Where does lithium come from, anyway?

Michael Giberson

Joshua Keating, in Foreign Policy, offers a photo essay on lithium extraction in Bolivia. Keating said:

Bolivia hopes its lithium treasure can pull it up from the bottom rungs of the global economy, but as countries throughout the developing world have learned the hard way, resource wealth can just as easily lead to corruption, mismanagement, and more misery for the world’s neediest people. Lithium may very well be the secret to reducing the world’s disastrous dependence on oil, but that doesn’t mean a new “resource curse” can’t take its place.

FP says the “Fifty to 70 percent of the world’s supply” is located in just one spot in Bolivia, but that claim is higher than I see other places.  In any case, over 80 percent of the world’s production of lithium in 2008 came from three other countries: Argentina, Australia, and Chile.

HT to the Texas Energy and Environment blog.

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2 thoughts on “Where does lithium come from, anyway?

  1. the world’s disastrous dependence on oil

    Gawd, what pure insanity. How ideologically strait-jacketed do you have to be to describe use of the world’s cheapest and most convenient source of energy, one that has unambiguously increased the quality of life of billions, as a “disaster”.

    Do these guys really want to go back to the 18th century, when travel was the exclusive province of the nobility, and everything you consumed was produced within 100 miles of your birthplace?

  2. I don’t see how lithium can float on water. The densest brine I could find a value for was about 1500 kg / m3. The density of lithium chloride and lithium carbonate are both supposedly 200 kg / m3. Metallic lithium is less dense than water but would react quite violently with it, so I doubt any metallic lithium is involved in the evaporation stage. Hmmmm…..

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